Newsletter: How did school districts spend $1 billion in student aid? We’re not sure

An audit by the U.S. Department of Education found that Washington state school officials had little oversight in how school districts spent $1 billion in student funding, 20% of which was intended to help students catch up from learning loss as a result of COVID shutdowns.

The Seattle Times reported that state Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal said he thought the districts’ reporting was in compliance with federal law, but the reports tfice of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) posted were found to be insufficient.

Even now, the language OSPI posted to explain how districts used the money is fewer than 50 words. 

The audit also found that the state did not adequately monitor if the interventions meant to help students catch up were successful.


“Students are still behind. If there were more opportunities to weigh in, and transparency around what districts are doing, the funds may have been used in a way that’s more effective for students.”

-Katie Silberstein, strategic projects lead for the Edunomics Lab, a Georgetown University department that researches education finance.

Public trust in government is very low and it’s easy to see why when we find out that those who are entrusted to spend your money in specific ways, such as helping our kids recover academically, do so with a lack of accountability and poor follow-through.

A study ordered by the Washington State Legislature, conducted in May, found that 74% of school’s federal aid expenditures are classified as “other,” making it harder to verify how the money was spent.

This is unacceptable. Superintendent Reykdal should be monitoring our school districts’ reporting more closely. If he can’t ensure we spend federal dollars as we are required to do so, it could jeopardize such aid in the future. Our students deserve better.



We stand with Israel

Earlier this week, the Senate majority leader and I wrote a letter to the governor asking him to demonstrate Washington’s support for Israel in the current conflict in Gaza by flying the Israeli flag at the state Capitol and lowering the state flag and the U.S. flag to half-staff.

Shortly afterward, the governor did just that. We appreciate the governor granting our request and hope that Washington’s Jewish community knows we stand with Israel.


SRC On Air: Sen. John Braun on The Lars Larson Show



Is Democrats’ cap-and-tax a boom or a bust?

The Democrats’ program that they refer to as “cap-and-trade” has now raised more than $1.4 billion by auctioning off carbon credits to companies that provide energy and fuel for our cars, businesses and homes.

Where has that money really come from?


The program, which is more appropriately named “cap-and-tax,” has fulfilled its purpose — to take a tremendous amount of money from your pocket so Democrats can grow government.

In past newsletters, I’ve explained how the program has become an indirect gas tax of an additional 50 cents per gallon, making Washington’s gas prices fluctuate between being the highest and second-highest in the nation.

In the meantime, the governor and his staff have repeatedly blamed everyone but themselves for the added costs being called out for what they really are. They also accuse those who have told the truth about the program from the beginning of being dishonest.

A recent example was highlighted by political commentator Brandi Kruse on her podcast Undivided. Brandi rightly criticized the governor’s office for its disingenuous behavior, which she called “shameful.”

If you remember, the governor initially said the cap-and-tax program would only cost “pennies.” He also said it might even lower gas prices. Not only were these claims absurd, they were intended to undermine the data-based efforts of those of us who predicted the true price increase.

In addition, while flanked by Democrat legislators at a news conference where he blamed oil companies for the increase in fuel costs, he accused Republicans of not wanting clean air and wanting your children to get asthma. More absurd claims.

Gov. Inslee and others point to the $1.4 billion of new revenue as justification for their actions, as if the ends justify the means. But he neglects to acknowledge the true hardship the increased prices cause for families and businesses across the state.

That is no way to govern.

Two more auctions are to be held in 2023. It remains to be seen how they will affect gas prices, but we will share that information as soon as we know it.


Important Clips